I remember a time when the temperature and the humidity were reported separately, and you had to do a mental calculation about how it would feel outside. Then a meteorologist developed something called the “Real Feel,” which is a combination of both numbers into one. Also known as the heat index, the “humiture,”and the “assessment of sultriness” (no, that is not a ratings system for Netflix Originals), the Real Feel is an indication of how quickly your mascara will melt in high temperatures/high humidity situations. This is not helping. Yesterday in Orlando, the Real Feel was 105. I didn’t need to know that. In fact, the minute I became aware, I fled to the air conditioning.
There is something about the reality of my circumstance vs. how I thought things were going that was immediately unpleasant. I didn’t feel nearly as hot before I read the Real Feel as I did the instant that number came up on Accuweather. 105!!! I’m turning into ash!
Paul has an interesting discussion with the people at Colossae on how things feel vs. how things really are. The new Christians there were struggling with the overlaying of human traditions, rules, and obstacles onto the reality of their new circumstance. Their reality was that they had all been redeemed by Christ and were living a new, free life in him. These layers of oppressive laws and practices by others only resulted in the heat index rising unnecessarily. The true measure of their situation was a new, cool, unburdened existence as part of the Body of Christ:
6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
16-17 So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.
I love the instruction to “watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything.” Isn’t that a pretty perfect description of social media?And what passes for the “news”? All this arguing, all this vitriol! Honestly, have you ever changed somebody’s mind (or had yours changed) by exchanging hot words and humid barbs? Yeah, me neither.
So go and do what you’ve been taught! School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it. Some of us think we can’t start our lives of freedom and service until we understand it better; we want one more Bible Study before we sign up for a mission trip, another year of listening to sermons before we share our faith with someone, more time in Sunday School before we offer to teach the kids…..nope. Stop laying on a heaviness of ritual and hoop jumping and start living the life to which you’ve been called. The present reality of our circumstance is Christ crucified. That’s it. And with that, we can weather anything.
Pink sunset over Kitty Hawk Bay. Photo by Michelle Robertson.